Monday, 25 May 2015

The zombie autopsies

So we have discussed where zombies come from. Now lets cut them open and see how they work!

This book tries to blend fiction with fact and does a fairly good job of it. Two thirds of the world's population has been destroyed by a zombie virus that causes Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome (ANSD). The United Nations and World Health Organization are desperate to find a cure. Work progresses in a hastily built lab set up on a remote island off India. It is known as the "Crypt" as no one sent there ever returns. In fact, those scientists that succumb to the disease there end up being dissected by the next batch of scientists sent out to continue the work.

But nothing has been heard from the Crypt for a while and so a military team is sent to investigate. They find the hand written notes of Dr Blum. It is his descriptions of the zombie autopsies and the events that happened on the island that form the basis of the book. 

Written by Steven Schlozman MD, a doctor, The Zombie Autopsies attempts to build a medical hypothesis for how a zombie plague could happen. In this he adds a few novel features. Like the possibility that the virus was manufactured by a pharmaceutical company intend on getting rich by selling the vaccine. That the disease uses an influenza virus as a vector to deliver prions (prions are behind Mad Cow Disease) but there is another mysterious agent at work. And while these zombies are infected humans, the UN has decreed that those in the fourth, and final, stage of the disease are legally dead. Similar to the Haitians who believe a Vodou zombi is dead, even if it is still alive.

About a quarter of the book consists of fictitious supporting material like UN reports, the "Atlanta Treaty" and a glossary of terms. I particularly liked SCE (Spontaneous Cephalopod Cranial Explosions). Turns out squid can catch the disease and without a skull their brains swell and explode.

This book is pretty good but could have been better. Some of it seemed a bit contrived. It uses a handwriting style of typeface for Dr Blum's notes but there are no scratched out mistakes or smilie faces in the margins. Likewise no photos as no one trusts electronic records anymore. Yet a blueprint of the lab, a map or two and some cool logos would have   enhanced it all. Still but the autopsy illustrations are great.

Bite off more prions than you can chew

Mr Rimsky

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